10 Most Important Directors Of The 21st Century (So Far)

10. Hayao Miyazaki

Bad Taste Peter Jackson
Studio Ghibli

The anime legend who just won’t retire, Hayao Miyazaki’s impact on animated film-making is pretty much unparalleled. His work on Ponyo, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and The Wind Rises have made the 76 year old one of the key figures responsible for pioneering and popularising anime cinema, not only as lucrative prospects, but as award-winning and critically acclaimed masterpieces.

Many people wrongly think of anime in terms of obtuse and super-macho shonen manga, such as Bleach, Naruto or Fullmetal Alchemist. Miyazaki’s films buck that trend, and have opened the door for more personal, character-centric stories to be told through the medium of animation.

His lush worlds are as beautiful as those who occupy them – Miyazaki has done for anime what Kurasowa did for live action Japanese film, and what Pixar has done for western animation. He has brought it to larger, more diverse audiences, and perpetuated the idea that ‘cartoons’ aren’t just for kids to watch on a Saturday morning.


Liam is a writer and cranberry juice drinker from Lincolnshire. When he's not wearing his eyes away in front of a computer, he plays the melodica for a semi wrestling-themed folk-punk band called School Trips.